Art Bell announced last night that he is retiring from his popular Coast to Coast radio show.
Knowing that his listeners have heard him retire on previous occasions, Bell said, "This time it's for real though. (chuckles) It's for real."
Bell explained that this time he was retiring not for some tragedy or emergency, but to be with his wife and infant daughter. He married Airyn (Ruiz) Bell, roughly 40 years his junior, last year -- just a few months after his wife Ramona died suddenly. A daughter, Asia Rayne Bell, was born just a few weeks ago. Bell's voice sounded emotional at times during the announcement, as though he was holding back tears:
Bell commented that on June 17th, he became eligible for Social Security. Then he laughed as he reflected on that fact. He turned 62 on that date.
“God has blessed me with love in my life at a time, frankly, when I thought I had lost any reason to live following Mona's death: my wonderful wife Airyn and now our daughter Asia. I really want what time the Lord has left for me to be with them."
Bell explained last night that he had needed to return to the air after Ramona's death because his audience was what was "familiar", they were "family" in a way. "All I had left at that dark time in my life was all of you." Being a private person despite being a public figure, he had a very small circle of close friends "and that's about it." But he now needs, he said, to go off the air as he enters a new phase in life. He added that it's not often that a person gets a "second chance" in life.
So listeners can no longer expect to hear Art Bell's relaxed but upbeat voice on Saturday and Sunday nights announcing that it is "my privilege to escort you through the weekend.” But he will still be associated with the Coast to Coast show he helped found, he says, and will be back occasionally to fill in or do a special. Listeners can still reach him, he said, at his two e-mail addresses on the Coast to Coast website.
Although Bell had not mentioned in his retirement announcement at the beginning of the show that he was going to the Philippines, his guest made mention of it at the end of the show when wishing him a good retirement: "I know you're going to the Philippines. Enjoy it." Bell responded, "OK".
Bell reminded his listeners that it had always been a "distinct pleasure" to be their host and then signed off:
"From the high desert. . .Goodbye."
See related story, "Is Art Bell Hinting at a Comeback?" at: "Is Art Bell Hinting at a Comeback?"